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You can’t turn on the TV or read the news without a mention of coronavirus or COVID-19 as it’s been officially named. And with the numbers of the infected rising every day, it isn’t surprising. As of February 26, 2020, there are 81,109 confirmed cases globally.
As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, it’s also becoming incredibly disruptive for businesses everywhere. You can already see its impact on markets and companies as the virus continues to create confusion, fear, and uncertainty – mainlyc due to the lack of communication and the spreading of misinformation.
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If there’s one thing we can say for certain, it’s that the coronavirus has the potential to impact your business across the board: HR, operations, marketing, sales, and all management roles in the company are expected to be affected. You must face this disruption head-on at all levels – from defining your business continuity plan to employee wellbeing and preparing for remote work conditions. You want to be prepared in case your company will also need to deal with a potential outbreak among team members – you must lead your business through the coronavirus crisis.
“HR leaders can’t wait for a crisis to develop to start responding. You need answers now to questions you’ll face” said Brian Kropp, Gartner’s Group Vice President.
It rests on your shoulders to provide all the answers your employees and customers are expecting. Some of the key questions we recommend you ask yourself are, “How is my company going to be affected by coronavirus? What about my employees and customers? How am I going to lead everyone through the crisis?” so you can prepare for what’s to come. Finding and implementing a workable and effective solution is a must. And as the saying goes, “the sooner, the better.” Create a strategy before coronavirus strikes your business, have an action plan for the day after and for ongoing months.
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Start by designating a dedicated task-force that will lead your team through the crisis
Every execution plan needs a strong team. Start by designating a task-force that will be responsible for dealing with the problems that coronavirus presents. Your team should be equipped to guide and understand the business in all aspects, so it’s best to include representatives from all critical business units and departments: HR, Operations, Marketing, Sales, Product, and any other key departments as you see fit.
This is not an everyday task that gets checked off, the employees in your task-force should be prepared to lead, gather information, communicate efficiently and provide the clarity your organization will need when things are done remotely and differently from what your teams are used to.
Let’s break down response readiness to three key fronts:
Managing the crisis in front of customers
Be proactive. Prepare for a scenario where delays in delivery or changes to services may occur. In advance, phrase how you will communicate this to your customer base and have this at the ready. Consider having a dedicated channel for customer communication that may be related to the outbreak, if your resources allow it.
Most importantly keep up the best service level in the time of crisis, reassure your customers that while things are more complicated, they are under control. Your customers will appreciate being informed and knowing you are on top of things. Don’t just let your customers get information from the news and never assume they know what’s happening behind the curtain – you must take control and lead the narrative.
Make sure your task-force is prepared to answer these questions:
- Will I get my product on time? If not, will I get a refund?
- Can I continue to make new orders?
- If a client is scheduled to arrive for a business meeting, will it happen? Should I show up at the meeting?
- Generally, what is the company doing in order to be prepared?
- How am I directly impacted by this crisis?
Here are a few tools that will help you handle the questions presented above:
If you’re unable to have in-person meetings
There are plenty of online meeting tools you can use. Newrow – recently acquired by Kaltura – is a great solution that allows you to host collaborative online meetings (video, conferencing, or phone) with a click of a link. This will help you connect with your client without delay when you need to speak with the most.
If your customers want to speak to the CEO
To keep your customers’ stress low, make sure the CEO is making a regular appearance to answer questions and to show that everything is on track. For example, he or she can host a live webinar, so the clients can ask their questions and stay updated directly by the CEO.
If you want to keep your customers informed more often
Send a newsletter, like with Mailchimp, to keep them up to date on the company’s status during coronavirus. Add pictures from the office and field to show that everything is okay, add a video or letter from the CEO, and so on – whatever information is necessary to show your customers that everything is on track and that your business is on top of things.
Managing the crisis in front of employees
Naturally, your employees will have many questions and you can expect some confusion among your team. But you are in charge, you must lead your business through the coronavirus crisis. Be prepared to address your team’s questions, to provide clarity and to keep ongoing contact:
Here are some key questions for your task-force to prepare for:
- Where and how can we (the employees) stay informed on developments?
- What new procedures should be put in place? (for example, new hygiene rules, restricted areas, maximum participants in a meeting, signs of coronavirus, etc.)
- What is the company’s updated travel policy? Who can approve flight at the time of outbreaks? What should happen with already booked flights? Are all projects and services continuing as usual? Are there some projects that should be put on hold? (for example, ones that require traveling or happen in locations that are considered high risk?)
- Will payroll happen as usual? Are there any delays expected?
- What are the key thumb rules every employee should keep? Will you provide masks? Will you limit the use of elevators? Will you guide your team members to work from home where and when is possible?
- What should an employee do if they suspect they might be infected? What’s the protocol for reporting such an incident? Who should they address?
The task-force must prepare beforehand and compile information that deals with the coronavirus so they can easily create instructional guides for employees to educate them about the virus (like listing ways to avoid it and key symptoms to recognize it). The World Health Organization has many helpful posters you can print and share with your team – check them out here.
You must use a tool that will easily allow you to reach all your employees, no matter where they are so you are prepared for remote work conditions (including out in the field, working from home, or at the office). Connecteam is a great tool that gives you just that – an organizational app to keep everyone on the same page, share important updates and knowledge, allowing for two-sided communication, filing of digital checklists and procedures, and so much more.
“Understanding this is a time of need, we have put together a plan for businesses that wish to be prepared for a potential outbreak in their organization. Our team is dedicated and ready to help every organization do a quick roll-out for a communication platform that will allow organizations to communicate, share knowledge and stay up-to-date even in case of an outbreak or remote working conditions” said Amir Nehemia, Connecteam’s CEO.
“As we understand the dysfunction with coronavirus for businesses, we are prepared to launch such solutions in a matter of 48 hours, and share our knowledge and insight to offer businesses the best tools and advice for dealing with this crisis.”
Reach out to Connecteam’s experts at: [email protected].
Managing the crisis in front of suppliers/partners
Whether your supplier/partner is in a country or city that has been affected by coronavirus or not, you can expect to have many questions from them and potential interruptions of service.
The task-force must be prepared and continuously debate the following questions:
- Will you continue to work as usual?
- Should we expect any delays due to coronavirus?
- Can you guarantee you can provide everything that has been ordered?
- Should we expect price fluctuations in the products and services we order from you?
Call or email your suppliers/partners on a weekly basis because the status of each question may change at any given moment and you must be prepared to handle any situation.
Share your plan with your board and key stakeholders
You must present your plan to the board to show that you are prepared for the worst and can continue to manage your business the day and months after coronavirus arrives in your country or city. After all, you can lead your business through the coronavirus crisis by following the steps we have outlined above.
Showcase your task-force and their agenda to gather information, manage and distribute communication that is related to coronavirus to your customers, employees and suppliers/partners to show you are proactive in preparing for a potential crisis and to give a sense of confidence to your employees and customers.
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